Ugandan poet and writer Joel Benjamin Nevender has passed on

Joel Benjamin Nevender aka Joel B Ntwantwa, one of the most respected young writers and poets from Uganda, passed away on February 11, 2018 due to complications related to sickle cell anaemia.

Joel Benjamin Ntwantwa was a poet who recently launched a digital poetry chapbook, Pumpkin Soup and other poems. He was also long listed for the Writivism Prize 2017, and has gone before the publication of his story in the annual prize anthology, due in August this year. Apart from his prose and poetry he was famous for his lifestyle blog Nevender where he reviewed not only books but also events, movies and exhibitions.

In perhaps a period of premonition the following poem he wrote is one of the most well known from the Ugandan poet.

THEY’LL CARRY ME

One day

They’ll take me away,

Away,

On a rainy Saturday.

 

They’ll carry me away,

Upon shoulders in a small brown

Box;

Never been a heavy man anyway,

So they’ll carry with ease that day.

 

I will be neatly dressed

Litres of perfume up my ironed face,

Eyes closed and unaware of the procession

I will be led away.

 

Lowered into a pit,

Tiled and clean, I hope it will be;

Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

 

On his passing there has been an outpouring of emotion for the popular Joel and we have curated some of these from Facebook and Twitter.

We worked with Joel closely, in various roles. He was the central figure in our 2017 partnership with the Uganda Blogging Community, he was an official blogger for our 2016 festival, where he was also a speaker. Joel attended and reviewed the annual Writivism festival and other events we organised religiously. He was one of us. He was us. So many other writing, blogging, social media and arts communities attest to Joel’s loyalty and generosity. Joel has gone, with a part of each of the communities he belonged to, that he built. We condole with his family, and friends.

Writivism Literary Initiative

The death of a young friend is hard to process, that of a promising, committed and passionate writer with most of his work ahead, even more so. This inversion of order is rude, when the elder bids farewell to the younger, but life was ever contrary. Nothing signals finality in a Kampala meeting. There is no tingle in a handshake that hints, “here’s our last on this side of eternity”. Leaving only each moment that should be lived like the last. Happily they were pleasant ones, those moments. Rest now, Joel Benjamin Nevender, awake or asleep, you’re fixed in the mosaic of our Uganda.

Chuma Nwokolo

Nigerian author and lawyer.

Deepest sympathy to the Arts Community in Uganda for the passing of the very passionate and talented Joel Benjamin Nevender. I met Joel in 2016 in Kampala at the Babishai Niwe Poetry Festival and the Writivism Literary Initiative,both events I attended during my stay. Joel was a fighter and he asked me to review my poetry chapbook, ‘Yearnings of a traveler’ Artists really never leave, their voices echo long through their works. Thanks for your service and sleep on.

Lekpele M. Nyamalon

Liberian poet.

One Reply to “Ugandan poet and writer Joel Benjamin Nevender has passed on”

  1. This poem brought tears. I never had the chance to meet him, but we communicated several times. He was generous with his words and time

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